Gresham Rallies For Runner-Up Finish In NASCAR K&N East/West Challenge At Iowa
NEWTON, IA (May 23, 2011) – After winning one of the closest races in NASCAR K&N Pro Series history last year at Iowa Speedway, you would think Max Gresham would have been satisfied with nothing less than another victory in Saturday’s Pork Be Inspired 175 K&N clash at the Newton, IA oval.
That wasn’t the case, however, as Gresham roared his No 18. Live Oak Plantation/Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota from the 23rd starting position to a second-place finish behind race winner Brett Moffitt.
“Heck yeah, I’m happy with second,” said Gresham after Saturday’s race. “I’m not sure we had anything for the 00 (Moffitt) at the end, but we did have a great battle with Eddie MacDonald for second. It was a fun race racing with him to the end, Honestly, I’m just happy to come out of here with a second-place finish. It was a great point’s night for us and that’s what we want to do, just keep on racking up the points.”
Gresham proved he would again be one of the drivers to beat posting the second fastest speed out of a massive field of 58 cars in practice. The recent Woodward Academy high school graduate hoped to have a pole run, but an early qualifying draw and a loose race car had Gresham posting a lap of 129.310 miles per hour – good enough only for the 23rd spot in the 40-car starting field.
“We were just really loose in qualifying,” said Gresham. “I almost wrecked a couple of times. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.”
At the drop of the green flag, Gresham quickly picked up five spots in the first five laps of the race. Gaining ground was difficult, however, thanks to the great competition and the five caution periods that spiced the first 50 circuits.
“It was definitely tough the first half of the race,” Gresham stated. “The goal was to just keep the fenders on the car and we were able to work our way into the top 15 doing that. That paid big benefits after we were able to do our pit stop later in the race.”
Those ‘benefits’ came at Lap 88 caution period when Gresham headed to pit road and the assistance of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.
“We actually made three pit stops during that caution,” said Gresham. “We came in once for gas, once for right-side tires and once for lefts. It was kind of a like a goat rodeo. You have cars coming in and out of the pits and just avoiding everybody was a real challenge. It was tough, but my spotter Jeff Bailey, did a great job getting me in and out of the pits and my Joe Gibbs Racing team pit crew was super fast. We picked up eight spots from 14th to sixth and that definitely helped me save my tires to race at the end. What we did on pit road was the biggest thing that in getting us the great finish in this race.”
Gresham wasted little time putting the pit road advantage to work speeding from sixth to third in just six laps. Later on Lap 126, Gresham rolled around Benny Gordon for the second spot and set his sights on Moffitt who was ahead by 2.69 seconds.
Try as he might, Gresham wasn’t able to run down Moffitt and despite a late restart that closed the gap, the 18-year-old driver couldn’t pull the trigger on his first win of the 2011 NASCAR K&N season.
“I might have screwed up a little on the restart,” said Gresham of the late opportunity. “We just didn’t go like I needed to and Brett got a great restart. We weren’t going to chase him down and had to work pretty hard to hold off Eddie.”
The solid runner-up effort jumped Gresham from seventh to fifth in the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season championship point standings, Gresham now has 605 points is only 41 markers out of the top spot.
Gresham will now have a busy week moving from Griffin, GA to Charlotte, NC and traveling to Michigan International Speedway for an ARCA superspeedway test with Venturini Motorsports.
Gresham’s next NASCAR K&N event will be on Saturday, June 4 when the East division visits historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, NC. The event, which will be part of a NASCAR doubleheader that also features the Whelan Modified Series, will take the green flag at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
You can follow Gresham at www.MaxGresham.com – or on Twitter@MaxGresham and on Facebook at Max Gresham Fan Page
Additional information about the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR K&N Pro Series effort can be viewed at www.JoeGibbsRacing.com.
To discuss NASCAR and ARCA marketing opportunities with Max Gresham, please contact J.R. Longley at JRLongley@MaxGresham.com or at 706-581-6970.